How to get a 5 star service


In my 20 plus years in travel and hospitality, I have worked as a flight attendant on both commercial and private aircraft, front of house and back of house in hotels looking after VIPs and celebs, and regular guests, and now using all that experience, as a Luxury Travel Designer. The answer is always the same.

You might think that VIPs and Celebs get the best service, but that is not necessarily so, and sometimes definitely not the case…

Let me give you an example:

A pop diva struts in and out of the hotel barking orders and demands at her assistant, her manager and hotel staff. At the same time an elderly couple are chatting to the reception staff, they have returned to the hotel where they honeymooned 50 years ago, are marvelling at how it has changed, and wondering where that nice doorman has gone… Now who do you think will get the best service?

So when people ask me that question, the answer is really simple… be nice. It is so simple in fact that anyone can do it, no matter how much they are paying for their room/ticket/trip.


Chat to the receptionist at check in, about your day, the reason for your trip and ask how their day is going (yes really) Engage with the person serving you. Any chance of an early check in? A quiet room? Well of course sir/madam and I have upgraded you too.

Then, and this is important, remember their name, go back and say thank you later, and say hello and smile as you walk through reception during your stay. Those simple acts will mean that he/she tells her colleagues how lovely you are, they will all look after you and sometimes, you may even get some VIP amenities sent up to your room – a pot of hot chocolate and cookies to warm you up after a cold day seeing the sights. A couple of glasses of champagne before you head out to the theatre…


Yes, you can book your theatre tickets online at the business centre, but you can also chat to the concierge, have them book it for you for no extra charge, whilst chatting about what else is on it the city. The same goes for restaurant bookings. The hotel concierge has the relationship with the ticket agency/restaurant and will (if they like you), tell the person on the line that it is a special occasion or that you are special guests and can they take care of you (and yes, they do stretch the truth, IF they like you). Remember the concierge’s name, go back and tell them how the show was, how dinner was. Smile and say hello when you see them. Again, you might find some extras in your room later, or at least, a great table at dinner.

On the aircraft, don’t board and immediately give the crew a huge box of chocolates – too cheesy and not genuine! No, just chat, be polite, be considerate, engage with the crew. Is it their first flight of the day? Is it the end of their day? Are they tired? If you enter the galley and they are eating … don’t ask for a cup of tea and stand there waiting for it, tell them your seat number and ask if they can bring you one after  they have finished eating. If you are not flying up front you might find a few First Class chocolates come with your tea. Say thank you and use their name. Use it again later. Any extra goodies, treats are bound to come your way later.


Hotel staff, airline crew, travel consultants, are all “people people”. They like guests/passengers/clients happy, especially those they like.

I could give many more example but you get the idea.

In essence, make friends. It’s that simple.

How do I know this? That’s because I have given away more extras/upgrades/bottles of champagne than I can count, just because the customer made friends with me… and we all like to do special things for our friends don’t we…

Try it out and see for yourself,


Janet Mactavish